Potty Training Tips from a Mom of Five
Alright. I know this post won’t be for everyone, but… so lots of you asked me to share my tips for: Potty Training. Two weeks ago, we potty trained our fifth child and, knock on wood, he’s well on his way (100%success with #1… a bit of a learning curve [normal] for #2…).
Potty Training Tip #1: Timing
I could almost write this post and simply repeat this first tip, because I truly think it’s the MOST important part of the whole equation. We trained two of our kids at 3+ to great results, 1 kid at 2+ to not great success and 2 kids basically trained themselves when they were ready (before 3). The older the child, the easier it will be, and some kids will just be ready sooner than others!
Potty Training Tip #2: Talk It Up
Long before we start potty training, we talk about all things potty related. We invite the child to come watch us use the potty. We mention when older siblings or friends use the potty. Yeah… it’s annoying, but it creates a frame of reference and helps present the potty in a positive light! We also have lots and lots of children’s books around the house all about using the potty.
Potty Training Tip #3: Make it an Occasion
We’ve always done a “potty weekend”. Essentially, we draw a line in the sand and (hopefully) no turning back. This delineation is helpful for adults and kids alike, in my opinion. Potty weekend means no more diapers ever (except when sleeping, obviously). It’s important to pick a weekend when there’s not much going on, because the first two days will be all potty, all the time. Read on for details about Potty Weekend.
Potty Training Tip #4: Supplies
Before potty weekend, you’re going to need to load up on supplies.
1. Salty foods and things to drink. The more your child as to pee, the more your child has the chance to practice getting to the potty.
2. Prizes. SOOOOO many prizes. I used M&Ms for my oldest child, but this latest round, I got more aggressive.
4. Books your child enjoys and a stool for sitting on. You’re going to spend a loooot of time sitting next to your child and entertaining them while they sit on the potty.
5. A timer.
6. The numbers of friends and family you can call to brag. Most people will pick up on your excitement, but you need a short list of people who will be REALLY excited about “pee pee in the potty.”
7. Cleaning supplies. Just in case.
8. Shiny new underpants. Preferably with fun patterns or characters.
Potty Training Tip #5. Details
The fundamental goal of potty weekend is to have a full joyous celebration whenever ANY attempt is made to sit on the potty. Anytime the child sits on the potty, they get a sticker. Once they sit, set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes. Once the timer is up, hop up and carry on. Have salty snacks and drinks available at all times (See Tip #4, part 1). Set the timer for 20-30 minutes; when the timer goes off, time to sit again!
We’ve found that it’s more effective to let your little one walk around bottomless during potty weekend. Underwear, clothing… they all feel a lot like a diaper which leads to a false sense of security and…accidents.
The first time your child goes in the potty, they may be startled or scared. Remember it’s a totally new sensation and it feels different! Getting them back on the potty for the second time, might require a little added incentive. In our experience, once they’ve gone 4+ times in the potty, they begin to connect the dots of sensation –> action.
Once even a drop of pee lands in the potty, you pick up your phone and, WITH YOUR CHILD, call the first person on your brag list. We Facetimed my parents who picked up on the overzealous tone of my voice and knew to scream and cheer on their end.
Potty training is exhausting for a kid. Every minute of their day is now spent preoccupied by something that, until now, wasn’t even a little bit of a concern. don’t be surprised if they sleep more, need to nap earlier, and are generally out of sorts. This is HARD.
Potty Training Tip #6: Let’s Talk Number 2
Once your child figures out #1… it may be a while before they master #2. This is totally typical. Make sure their diet has lots of fiber to keep things moving. Sidenote: One of our children started ‘withholding’ which means they are clenched for 60% of the day trying to hold things in… our pediatrician suggested a small dose of Miralax to help soften things and make it all easier.
Potty Training Tip #7: Other suggestions
– Make sure your child is wearing loose-fitting clothing that can easily be pulled down.
– For our boys, we started them seated in a kids potty and then at some point, they felt comfortable enough standing up at the regular potty.
– Accidents will happen. It goes without saying, that your tone for any mistake should NEVER be one of anger or frustration.
Some of our favorite potty Training Gear:
(Affiliate links included for your own convenience.)
– Our potty (in blue)
– Potty seat we have on our toilets
– Portable potty we have in the car (don’t forget the bags)
– Favorite Potty Books: Potty, A Potty for Me!, Once Upon a Potty, Where’s the Poop, The Potty Train
– Protective seatcover for Car Seat
– Our favorite baby wipes
When it comes to potty training, there’s no one-method-works-for-all solution. If you’ve gone a few days and your child doesn’t seem to be getting the gist of it, then maybe they’re just not ready. In our experience, it took quite a bit longer for the kids to figure out #2, but they all got the hang of #1 after a few days of intensive potty-talk. If you have a spouse or partner, take turns… potty training isn’t the most fun way to spend your time. Don’t be surprised if you have moments of regression… back to school, a new baby, moving to a new house…. all of these things can set a kid back so take a deep breath, stock up on M&Ms and start where you left off.
Leave a comment if you have any other tips or tricks! Sometimes it takes a village to potty train these kids, folks! Share the love!